Another injury to superstar center Joel Embiid‘s ailing left knee has the slumping Philadelphia 76ers in wait-and-see mode.
Embiid was set to undergo an MRI after Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga landed on the reigning NBA MVP’s knee toward the end of Tuesday night’s game, 76ers coach Nick Nurse said.
The big lost the ball with just over four minutes remaining in Tuesday’s game in San Francisco and ended up on his back. In a fight for the ball, Kuminga fell to the ground and landed on Embiid’s leg — ending Embiid’s night early.
Embiid had missed the previous two games with soreness in that left knee but was cleared by the team’s medical staff to play Tuesday.
“It’s kind of unrelated to what’s been bothering him,” Nurse said of Embiid’s latest injury. “So we’ll just wait on that.”
Embiid leads the NBA with 35.3 points per game and is also averaging 11.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists. The 29-year-old is considered an MVP front-runner but can miss only five more games to be eligible for postseason awards under the NBA’s requirement that recipients make at least 65 appearances.
Tuesday’s 119-107 defeat marked the 76ers’ fourth loss in a row. The Knicks (31-17), who won their eighth game in a row Tuesday, have taken advantage of Philadelphia’s freefall and moved into the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed. The Knicks, too, are dealing with a key injury to their frontcourt as they await a timeline for forward Julius Randle’s return from a dislocated shoulder.
The Cavaliers (28-16) have also passed the Sixers (29-17) in terms of percentage points and entered Wednesday in fourth place in the conference, just ahead of fifth-seeded Philadelphia.
Tuesday also broke Embiid’s 22-game streak of scoring at least 30 points — a stretch that included a 70-point explosion on Jan. 22 against the Spurs. Embiid, who appeared hobbled even before the Kuminga collision, managed only 14 points on 5-of-18 shooting Tuesday.
“He said he’s more, a little rusty,” Nurse said after the game. “He hadn’t been on the court for five days. But he said he felt good [before the new injury].”